Junk in Your Trunk

Photos By: Justin Dobson     

“Geek out”.  I love the term.  Most of us who are serious about fly fishing “geek out” at some point.  My moment came when losing a big fish on 2x tippet that should have held.  You try to imagine what went awry in that underwater world.  Did I not tie the knot well?  Teeth?  A rock?  Bad material?

In my quest for knowledge I pondered the following; what effects does temperature have on leader and tippet material.  How many of us are guilty of throwing the fishing bag in our trunk or cab and leaving it there until the following weekend or for an evening “sesh” after work?  I know I am.

Sure they say: when all else fails read the directions.  But most fishing materials come with no warning.  So I started with the manufacturer’s opinion and contacted the reps at the best leader and tippet supplier, Far Banks Enterprises, the manufacturer of RIO products (I wasn’t paid to say that).  Here’s what they had to say:

“Typically nylon is more subject to degradation by long term exposure to UV light and Fluorocarbon is more affected by high temperatures.  But to be clear, exposure to extremely high temperatures, like those that come from being stored in the trunk of a car will have adverse effects on both mono and fluorocarbon.  Normal fishing conditions generally do not expose your leaders to temps much higher than 100 degrees or so.  I would tell you that exposing your leader material to temperatures higher than 120+ on a consistent basis will lead to weakening your material, and I suspect your car trunk in the Southeast Summertime heat could easily reach and surpass those temperatures.  I would not store my leader material in those conditions for the long term”

Chris Andersen

/ Far Bank Enterprises / Technical Service Manager

Seems logical.  This stuff is plastic after all, and it seems obvious plastic doesn’t perform well in heat or exposure to UV. But just how hot does it get in your trunk or cab? Working at an engineering firm which tests materials when I’m not fishing, allows me to “geek out” on a higher level when exploring the facts.   In an effort to appeal to the masses, I decided to forego performing this test on a steamy Southeastern Georgia day and opted for what seemed to be an average Lower 48 summer day of 83˚ F (our cool spell).  I used a thermocouple (fancy accurate thermometer) to check temperatures in a closed trunk and closed car.  I was surprised at the difference in temperatures inside the trunk of my car versus the inside of the car. The trunk of a car is somewhat insulated from radiant heat, and although it didn't reach the 120˚ F point on this  83˚ F summer day, it's still very hot and a higher temperature than what most fishing conditions would subject your material to.

I’d conclude both trunk or inside the cab may be dangerous and detrimental to your line.  But storing it inside your car or truck cab with the potential for exposure to heat AND UV light is far worse than inside your trunk.  At almost 160˚ F within 13 minutes of closing the door, I might as well been cooking a pot roast (recipe for car pot roast to follow in my next post)

All this being said and discovered, I am far more cautious about where and how I store my tippet and leader material.  There may be a blank spot for you to write in when you purchased it or an expiration date on some other manufacturers product, but how you store it during its life with you has a great deal of effect on its performance.   How you treat your material might just make the difference between your next hero shot or your next broken heart.

Thanks to Chris at RIO products for helping me "geek out".  They provide a great technical product and excellent customer service for us.